Spiritual Direction Doesn’t Come ‘Naturally’

Post a Comment » Written on February 26th, 2009     
Filed under: News
CHICAGO, IL (February 26, 2009) – Neil Taylor learned he wasn’t as smart as he thought when he went through the Center for Spiritual Direction program at North Park Theological Seminary. But his hearing improved.

“I hate to admit this point of pride, but I gave myself far more credit than was due in my natural abilities to give spiritual direction to others,” says Taylor, a pastor at Jesus People USA Covenant Church, an intentional community in Chicago.

“Spiritual direction training gave me a different ear to listen …”

His method consisted of listening to the words someone else was speaking and then sharing his wisdom. He had clung to that particular method, even though it didn’t work.

“For 30 some odd years of living in community, I’ve never been successful in fixing myself, and I’ve never been able to fix someone else,” Taylor says.

He learned a new approach over the course of the three-year program. “It taught me to not offer a solution very quickly and to depend on God to do the work that needs to be done in a person’s life,” he says. “Spiritual direction training gave me a different ear to listen to the person and hopefully to God.”

The change represented Taylor’s new understanding of spiritual direction. Direction is a process by which directors help directees discern and respond to the movement of God in their lives. Directors may introduce directees to various disciplines.

In addition to giving him ears to hear, Taylor says the program re-energized him, as well as other participants in the program.

The program is made possible through a $1.6 million Lilly Grant for the Evangelical Covenant Church’s Sustaining Pastoral Excellence program. Applications are being accepted through March 31 for the next session, which begins in late July. For more information, visit the program’s website.

Taylor actually was not admitted to the program the first time he applied and almost didn’t try again. Then someone told him, “Get over your disappointment and apply again.”

Taylor is glad he listened.

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